Awesome YA Fantasy Heroines – And What Exactly Makes Them So Awesome

Guest Post by Author K. Parr

POSTED ON April 25, 2019 BY Austine IN Guest Post

A List of Awesome YA Fantasy Heroines – And What Exactly Makes Them So Awesome

By K. Parr

The phrase ‘strong female character’ is often used when mentioning heroines, but can’t characters possess admirable qualities aside from strength?

In this list of recent YA fantasy heroines, I discuss the defining features that set them apart – and make them characters we love!

Note: This is a non-exhaustive list from books I’ve read – I’d love to learn about more! Also, beware minor spoilers!


Mariko from Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

Wit – Mariko’s quick wit saves her life and sparks her entire journey into a brand new world. Her quick thinking allows her to not only survive, but also pave a new path–one where she thrives.

Shahrzad from The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

Cunning – Shahrzad knows exactly what she’s getting into when she volunteers for a dangerous assignment–and she’s got a plan to make it go her way. Her brilliant cunning and bravery helps her outwit and outlast when none were able to do so before.  

Katsa from Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Determination – Katsa is determined to survive, to persevere, and to do good in the world, and she won’t let anyone hold her back. She fiercely loves and protects those important to her, and pushes herself to the limit to accomplish her goals.

Denna from Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Insight – Denna is smart, and even in new situations, she knows how to find information and draw on past experiences to help. She uses her skill of insight to gain the truth about a startling circumstance that arises, while also hiding a powerful new ability.

Mare from Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Boldness – Unlike Denna, Mare doesn’t use insight to fit into new situations. In fact, she doesn’t try to fit in, because she isn’t willing to compromise on who she is and what she wants out of life. Her boldness is jarring to many, but complements her independent spirit.

Amani from Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Compassion – Thrown into a harsh situation and forced to do a dangerous job, Amani nevertheless retains compassion for those who seemed like enemies, but were actually victims caught in the same scheme. Her ability to see each person’s humanity is a strength that aids her in her cause.

Elli from The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine

Resilience – Elli’s naivety may get her in trouble at first, but she isn’t stupid, and she quickly realizes what’s going on and what part she can play. She pushes past personal setbacks to advocate for her people and give them the strength they need to face a startling new future.

Ansa from The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine

Loyalty – Ansa struggles to understand herself, but she knows who she loves and is willing to give her life to ensure their protection. Despite numerous internal and external upheavals, Ansa remains true to her gut and the people she values.

Odessa from Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Perseverance – Odessa knows what she is and what she’s capable of, until her world turns upside-down with a tragedy that sends her spiraling. Although she wallows for a time, she eventually gains the will to dig herself free of her pain and helps fight an even greater enemy.

Alanna from The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce

Courage – Alanna takes what she wants from life. With quick thinking and a brave heart, she enters a world not designed for her, but paves her own path and learns to thrive. She sets a powerful example to follow, and her very existence challenges the old-fashioned beliefs of people in her world.

Keladry from The Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce

Self-Confidence – Thanks to Alanna paving the way, Keladry can exist without the same struggles, but still has to prove herself. Thankfully, she fully embraces who she is and isn’t afraid to show it. She demonstrates how women can be feminine and fight without needing to compromise.

Karou from Daughter of Smoke & Bone series by Laini Taylor

Love – Karou possesses love for her family and her people, but she sees beyond them to creatures that might’ve once been enemies. Her love compels her actions toward peace and avoiding conflict, even as the worst seems about to happen.    

Honorable mentions:

Inej and Nina from the Six of Crows series by Leigh Bardugo for their skills, bravery, and ability to survive!



Also, I can’t help but add my own YA fantasy heroines to the list!

Rasha from The Sun and Moon beneath the Stars by K. Parr

Kindness –  What has always drawn me to Rasha as a character is her kindness in the face of all she has suffered. She genuinely cares about others, and her empathy draws people toward her. It’s no wonder she gains powerful allies!

Adriana from The Sun and Moon beneath the Stars by K. Parr

Honesty – Adriana is a fish out of water in my story, and she’s honest about how scared and uncertain she is in the new situations that arise. While her frankness may come off as arrogant, she’s also honest about wanting to learn and change and be better. Thankfully, she ends up with a group of people who understand and are willing to help.


Do you agree with my list and the qualities I assigned? Are there characters I’ve missed?

Comment below with your thoughts – I’m always looking for more YA fantasy heroines to fall in love with!

About K. Parr

K is a writer of multiple genres, including young adult, romance, fantasy, paranormal, and humor, all of which star LGBT characters. She received her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in 2017. In her spare time, K reads and writes fanfiction, keeps up with way too many TV shows, and dances wildly in her apartment. She currently works as a teen librarian in Rhode Island.


A big thank you to K. Parr for stopping by NovelKnight today to share this awesome list! Love seeing so many of my favorites gathered together!

Read more about her book The Sun and Moon Beneath the Stars, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post!

About the Book

Awesome YA Fantasy Heroines – And What Exactly Makes Them So Awesome
The Sun and Moon Beneath the Stars
by K. Parr
Published on March 4, 2019 by NineStar Press
Format: Paperback
Pages: 314
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

After being orphaned and forced to work as a palace slave, fifteen-year-old Rasha decides to end her life, but when she plunges a knife into her chest, she doesn’t die. Instead, a strange, icy power possesses her. The last time it took over, someone got hurt, and Rasha can’t let that happen again.

But she’s got bigger problems. Her twin brother is alive, yet held captive by Solaris, a powerful sorcerer. When Rasha runs into Adriana, the selfish princess she once served, they discover Solaris is a common enemy since he destroyed the palace and kidnapped Adriana’s parents.

Together, Rasha and Adriana set out on a rescue mission. Personalities clash and tempers flare, but other feelings surface as well, feelings neither girl could have predicted.

And with the help of a ragtag group of companions, they might just be able to succeed on their quest…until an ancient evil emerges to wreak vengeance on their world.

Buy It!
Book Depository Amazon Barnes & Noble Indiebound
NovelKnight receives a small commission for any purchases made through the links above.

Content & Trigger Warnings: attempted suicide and suicidal ideation, past physical abuse (whipping), minor gore, minor violence, use of poison


Never miss another book recommendation!

Book dragons love comments!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

11 responses to “Awesome YA Fantasy Heroines – And What Exactly Makes Them So Awesome

  1. Danielle Hammelef

    I have to add Keralie from Four Dead Queens as well as Poe Blythe from The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe.

  2. I love that you included some “older” heroines, i.e. from books that were published longer than a couple of years ago!

    Do Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles books count as fantasy? If so I would say Cinder and Scarlet and Winter are all fantastic heroines. Don’t hate me, but I just didn’t like Cress very much… *ducks all the flying eggs*

    • I simply HAD to include Alanna and Keladry – they were the first YA fantasy heroines I fell in love with, and who inspired me to write my own!

      And I’ll have to add the Lunar Chronicles to my list as well!

  3. Autumn

    I love Inej from Six of Crows. She is so powerful and smart, yet imperfect. Love her for life! Also, it may not be fantasy, but I love June from the Legend series.